Choosing Indian Clubs

by Roger LaPointe

Roger and a couple of his BIG Indian Clubs!

Boy oh, boy.  I am so glad the new web site is up and running.  Now I can start addressing some of the most popular questions. If you have not been to look at the Atomic Athletic web site recently, here is a link:

#1 QUESTION: What size Indian Clubs should I buy?

Atomic Athletic has a full supply and selection of Indian Clubs.

Obviously, if you are a 100 pound woman, you will be using clubs smaller than what a 300 pound man is going to use.  However, I can give you some advice that will apply, regardless of your basic strength level.

1. Everyone needs to learn technique.  Start smaller than what you think you will ultimately work up to using.  Just because you regularly use 50 pound dumbbells, does not mean that you can use a 50 pound Indian club.  In fact, I would say that the ratio is more like 4:1.  I will use 100 pound dumbbells for some exercises, but I don’t use anything heavier than 24 pounds as a club.

2. Roger, you use 24 Pound Persian Meel type Indian clubs, so do you still use lighter clubs?  Yes.  I start every workout with an antique pair of 1 1/2 Pound wooden clubs.  I work up from there.  Just like dumbbells, you would do different exercises with 10 pounders and 100 pounders, but both are useful, even within the same workout.

3. Based on my body size, how heavy will I be able to go with Indian Clubs?  Well, I am 5′3” & 160 pounds and I can use up to the 24 Pound Meels, but I have met 300 pound guys who can’t do much of anything with 12 Pound Meels – until they have learned the technique.  I have also worked with some women, who have great technique that can use 12 Pound Meels as well as doing an hour with 2 Pound HIP Clubs.  So, take that for what it is.

Learning the Secret

by Roger LaPointe

The Firestorm Wrist Roller, by Atomic Athletic.

Lost variations of exercises can be your key to success. Because you know the secret, I am going to let you in on this one.  When I stumbled across this variation on wrist roller work, it was one of those DUH moments for me.  You know what I am talking about, when you see something for the first time and say to yourself, “Duh!  Why didn’t I think of that?”

This exercise does not come from an exotic locale, like the Shaolin Temple or a Kushti Wrestling school in Varanasi, but from strange and exotic 1960’s New Jersey.  Of course, to a kid from Michigan, it may as well have been the North Pole. Presented by Professor E. M. Orlick, we have “Series B: Arms Bent and Elbows Held In Against Your Sides”.  Try your wrist roller work with your arms like this.  “Your lower arms must be bent so that they are at right angles to your upper arms and parallel to the floor.” 

If you have one of the Firestorm Wrist Rollers we sell, it should be just long enough for you to have your arms straight out and not crowded in next to the cord in the center.  If you collect wrist rollers, like I do, then you will know how this exercise is virtually impossible to do with the little short red wrist roller that York sold many years ago.  You simply don’t get anything close to a full range of motion in the palms up, bent arm position with a short wrist roller.  Don’t get me wrong, you can do some other interesting things with some of the short wrist rollers, but this is not one of them.

Once you have mastered this movement with a light weight, cut your 10 reps down to 5 reps and really increase the weight.  With your arms in this position, you should be able to do a lot more weight than with the straight arm, palms down position.  In addition to pyramiding the weight, I like to do a set/rep variation in this position that goes from very light weight for 20 reps to very heavy weight where 5 reps may be impossible, then back again, repeating several times.

What a Mug on that Guy

by Roger LaPointe

Portrait of Maurice "The French Angel" Tillet, that hangs in the gym at Atomic Athletic.

I got the coolest photo the other day.  It is Maurice “The French Angel” Tillet. Just having a space to lift in is not enough.  There a lots of gyms that have no soul.  There are lots of gyms that are sterile and faceless or just fake and seem to be pandering to a certain client.  What you have to do is create a lifter’s atmosphere.

“Oh My God!”  laughed Andy as he walked up.  I hung that framed photo at the top of the stairs leading to my office. 

“That brightened my day.  I was dragging.  That is funny.  Thank you.”  Andy, my assistant, couldn’t say enough.

You have to create a real lifter’s atmosphere to get the attitude right.  I happened to get that frame out of an old barn in the middle of nowhere Ohio.  All I needed to do was blast it with the air compressor and it was ready to Tillet’s face, or as ready as anything could be.  What a mug on that guy!

I have two jobs going right now that include photos or posters or other customized art for different facilities.  Sure, having great equipment helps make for a feel in a gym, but operating rooms have expensive stuff too.  Great does not necessarily mean expensive, or on the other end, cheapee homemade.  Of course, homemade CAN be great.  For some gyms, having a Giant Circus Hammer hanging on the wall would be enough and in others it would be lost.  I stick with the Supreme Court on this one, when it comes to cool, I know it when I see it.

Take Control of Your Forearms

by Roger LaPointe

Roger LaPointe training his forearms from an elevated positions, using a wrist roller and a heavy rope attached to weight. (photo courtesy of Atomic Athletic)

You can take control of your forearm growth. This is what is great about progressive resistance training. You are in control.The key is consistency. I don’t know how many times I have heard people talk about muscle confusion, chaos, or randomness being the key to training. Now, if you are simply an out of shape slob, anything will work when you first start off, because something is better than nothing. However, purely random exercises are not going to help you reach your potential.

The first step in any kind of training is learning how to use your tools. They all seem very simple. For example, how hard can it be to learn how to use a wrist roller? Technically, it is a stick with a cord that holds a weight. The learning process is more than just reading or watching a video, it includes doing something. You must actually pick up the item and start emulating what you have seen.

For example, in the Frightening Forearms DVD I show several methods of using your whole body with a wrist roller.

In the book “72 Consummate Arts Secrets of the Shaolin Temple”, the chapter on the Pot Lifting Arts you will find out a great method on how to increase the weight you are lifting.

You have read about it and watched me actually do things with a wrist roller. That is the easy part. Get out of your arm chair and be an athlete. Pick up your Wrist Roller and try the techniques you have seen.

For a few weeks, you will try something new with your Wrist Roller every single day, regardless of what the rest of your workout is like. Even if you have to use nothing more than a 1 1/4 Pound Plate, you will try the various techniques until you feel you really understand what is going on. IN THE PROCESS, you will actually be getting more exercise than you can believe!

Here is the entire Pot Lifting Arts Kit I have put together:

That is STEP 1 toward grabbing control of your forearm strength.

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

Bathroom Key Lift

by Roger LaPointe

The Bathroom Key at Atomic Athletic.

EVERYTHING becomes a game at Atomic Athletic… A lifting game.

PHOTO 1: Michael Codding is contemplating how badly he really needs to go to the john. One too many bathroom keys have disappeared here at Atomic Athletic, so we went one step further than the gas station attendant route. Yes, that is one of the base pipes that a fire hydrant would fit onto. It is just as heavy as it looks…

PHOTO 2: The bathroom key farmers walk is one of the dreaded events at the Atomic Athletic warehouse gym. What the heck! It’s only 110 pounds. However, Michael Codding starts his walk with an eager look on his face.

PHOTO 3: Fortunately, we did NOT have to mark a spot of failure in this farmers walk. We keep two pens for that purpose, one yellow and one brown. The bathroom key is heavy and control is really the issue here. Everything is a workout at Atomic Athletic.

Painful but true advice on successfully getting strong in a Garage Gym:

For more tips:

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

Bikini Clad Phone Book Tear

by Roger LaPointe

Bikini Clad Phone Book Tear

Don’t let the marketing gurus pull the wool over your eyes. Two piece swim suits were around before 1946. The Bikini was just not the name. Here is Relna McRae tearing a Los Angeles telephone book, from the July 1944 Strength & Health magazine. If you want to see some great feats of strength, done live, check out the Night of Strength III DVD . The standout performer is Pat Povilaitis, who is NOT in a Bikini.

If that isn’t enough for you, Pat “The Human Vise” Povilaitis shows everyone at the picnic how he got his nick name. Here is a shot with Pat tearing a deck of cards, with his hands in hand cuffs and a 350 Chevy Engine Block hanging from is head!

You can also see more of Pat, or get the DVD for the 1st Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic:

Time to decorate the Training Hall or Den?

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

Discover New Eyes

by Roger LaPointe

Jackson LaPointe agrees with Yasser, "Don't be a crying baby!" Stone lifting is apparently in his genes. Jackson is only 6 days old and he is already hefting stone balls onto barrels!

“The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” Marcel Proust

I have had a stunning number of questions about how I “train” my son, who is five years old. This is thanks to my using him as a model for some of our shirts, as well as my relating truths I have learned from him. It is also a compliment, so I thank you all.

“So?” you ask, “what are the most popular questions and what perspective are people coming from?” Well, many questions seem to be from dads who want their kid to become a better athlete. Cool. I understand the desire. As for being an expert on raising a kid, this is my first time around, so take that for what it is. Here is my advice for “training” your future athlete: train your child’s mind.

If you are an Atomic Athletic fan, then you probably know or guess that I look at training and the world a little differently than most. This can be a double edged sword. A friend of mine recently quoted Theodore Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, who said, “I like nonsense. It wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. And that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” I did a day of volunteer work at my son’s kindergarten class and noticed that while all the other kids were using single colors, staying in the lines and making their coloring projects pretty much the same, my son’s was completely different. While he stayed in the lines, he also had multi-colored swirls, patches of color and pictures within pictures. I like to think that my 5 year old has the lessons of the good Dr. firmly ingrained in his head. He also loves to play outside, pick up heavy things and fight with a heavy bag. He regularly sees new, strange and unusual “toys” at my office and warehouse. His first reaction is to play with them.

If you are genuinely interested in training that will take you on a different journey, start here:

Train your mind first.

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

Give’em The Finger

by Roger LaPointe

The Set-up for the Finger Lifts.

Ever wanted to just give the whole world the finger? Yeah. I know. You do things your way, because that’s the way you like it.

Well, you be pretty sure you have some of the strongest fingers when you give’em the finger. Atomic Athletic has some tips and tools. One of the tools is a serious steel lifting ring.

3 Tips for Finger Lifts
1. Start off light. That’s every single workout. You don’t want to pop a tendon.
2. Exercise & Competition are two different things. Don’t use other fingers for support. Don’t train individual fingers for 1 Rep Maxing, unless that’s your thing…
3. Stretch your fingers before AND after this exercise, not just before and after your whole training session. Feel free to ignore this one, if you don’t care about fine motor skills, like typing.

We actually sell two different sizes, just specify the one you want in the Customer Instructions section of the order: choices are big or small. They are the same price.

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

Flaming Indian Clubs

by Roger LaPointe

Flaming Indian Clubs!!!

I called Larry, an old friend, this morning. Just when I thought I had heard it all, Larry had another awesome story with visual impact to spare. Larry doesn’t even use “weights” for his weightlifting anymore. In fact, he gave away all of his barbell and dumbbell plates. Of course, resistance training is still part of his life and that means I have to ask him what he is doing now.

ROUTINE? Anything but…

Indian Clubs by Atomic Athletic.

Indian clubs are an integral part of Larry’s current training routine. We talked about some of the endless variations of club swinging. One key is how some practitioners get lazy and try to go too heavy with their clubs. Now, there is heavy and then there is heavy. Larry was talking about EGO heavy, where you start seeing the clubs flop around, or even sit on the shoulders. While being dangerous, it’s also not very helpful.

“So Larry, how do you recommend dealing with ego laziness? Are you a spiked club kinda guy?” Spiking clubs is something that you will occasionally see in the Kushti Wrestling schools in India, where there can be a hundred or more nails sticking out of the club. It provides incentive not to let the club get too close, but I don’t think insurance companies cover that sort of tool.

“No, of course not, Roger. That could lead to sliced up shoulders and blood. Nope. My Dad used to light his on fire.” “Really?” I replied. “Oh yeah,” he said, “he used wood ones that he coated with some kind of fuel. Then he would train at night in our back yard. It was one heck of a display. It really lit things up. Of course, I don’t recommend that. But he always said that it ensured perfect form. I like to think about that when I use clubs today. My form always improves.”

Next time you are training with your clubs, imagine they are on fire. Your form will get a little more precise as well.

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

An Atmosphere of Strength

by Roger LaPointe

Prints available from Atomic Athletic.

Creating an atmosphere of strength is hard to do, in today’s world.

More people are lifting weights than ever before, but strong people are still called “dinosaurs” and lifting heavy weights is called “old school”. It’s no wonder that desk jockeys are flocking to obstacle course races and other events that are considered tough.

Humans need a challenge.

We also need a place to train for that physical challenge. It’s not politically correct to say that we need to push ourselves. There are some of us left that don’t want to be in a contest where everyone gets a medal. We actually want to know who did the best and what was that best lift or the best time, because those of us who crave a challenge want to beat that guy in the next event.

If this is you, then you need to build the most useful and inspiring training atmosphere that you can. This concept applies to what you have on the walls of your gym. One of the charts you need is a Kilo Conversion Chart. You don’t want to enter that next contest to find that they are using kilos and you lift in pounds, or vise versa, and you don’t know what your opening attempts should be.

Check it out:

Don’t delay. Start your personal challenge now.

Live strong, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

Hey, Old Guy Lifters!

by Roger LaPointe

An Old Time Strongman performing a Yoke Lift with a man on his shoulders!

Old guy lifters are finally getting a little respect.

The world sure is changing. I re-posted a cool photo within Facebook that Facebook “Friends” seem to be loving. It’s an old black & white photo of this old guy lifting a home made barbell with two of his buddies hanging off the ends. I would re-post it here, but I don’t want to violate any copyright laws.

Discussion with Jeff Bankens:

Jeff Bankens: I wanna be scary strong like that when I’m a senior.

Roger La Pointe: Keep it up and you will be. 15 years ago, when I worked for York Barbell, I sold a set of “chest expanders” with the the surgical tubing, to Tommy Kono. I believe he had just had his hip replaced and he was still in his hospital bed. He couldn’t think of any other tool he could use in his condition, but he didn’t want to miss a workout.

True Story

I remember my Grandmother warning me that weightlifting was dangerous. It would make me “muscle bound” and it was “bad for my heart”.

For those of you who don’t know him, Jeff Bankens is a performing strongman from Louisiana who did his act at the Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Old Time Strongman Picnic in 2012. He has certainly “Friended” me on Facebook and I encourage you to “Friend” him as well. He has a lot of great stuff on YouTube and you will also find out more about his traveling shows.

I sure am glad I didn’t listen to her warning. Here another great photo of an older guy lifting something cool. I don’t know who took this photo or how old it is, but it is in my PRE-WWII folder. I know you want to see amazing Masters Age lifting, so I encourage you to also check out the USAWA meet coverage that we have available on the Atomic Athletic web site. Here are links for reference:

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift”

A Shark Tearing Flesh

by Roger LaPointe

Atomic Athletic Wrist Roller

Have you ever studied how a shark tears flesh? It is more than just a bite. The shark grabs flesh with its mouth and then twists the limb and grinds the teeth in a smearing motion. A sharks teeth cut like a serrated knife while wrenching the animal against the natural bio-mechanical direction of that limb’s joint. If the shark’s prey does have the ability to resist, let’s say it’s a person standing in shallow water, the jaws quickly reach bone and then tear the tendons and ligaments.

Learn from the shark! Your grip will naturally seize any object like the jaws of a shark. You just need to develop your grip to be as strong as its jaws. The linear motions we are used to working with, in the Western World, are simply not enough. Amazingly, we have a simple tool that has been a part of the Western world’s body building physical culture that is so under utilized it will make you sick! While the simple wrist roller has been sold as an also-ran gizmo for packing a “All-In-One” bodybuilding kit, for kids to open at a birthday party, the martial arts masters of the East have been making full use of this awesome tool! Now it is your turn. Get your Atomic Athletic Firestorm Wrist Roller Now! Make your forearms burn with just the right workout. Whether your sport is combat MMA or grappling on the grid iron, football or fighting, you need this kind of force on your side. Your opponent certainly will be using one.

More pictures of the Atomic Athletic Wrist Roller

Made of the same North American hardwood as the best baseball bats, white ash, you know it’s strong. Our beautiful fire red stain and clear lacquer finish ensure years of serious use.

Length: 21” Solid Hardwood
Grip Diameter: 1 1/4”
Kernmantle Cord Length: 10 FEET

Be one of the first. Here is your link to the forearm strength you have always wanted.

All the best, Roger LaPointe

Why a Thick Bar Steinborn Lift?

by Roger LaPointe

Roger LaPointe performing a Steinborn Lift with a thick bar shot-loaded barbell.

I have always loved the Steinborn Lift. So, the question is, why do a thick bar Steinborn lift?

Well, one good reason is if you can’t seem to clean the bar, this is a good way to get it in position for lifting the bar overhead. On a non-rotating thick bar that doesn’t have knurling, there is a good chance that I wouldn’t have been able to explosively lift it. Of course, I may have just done that lift because it’s fun to do, especially with a real shot loading barbell.

As I have been going through old photos, for a project soon to be announced, I found these great older shots of me doing a Steinborn. These shots are about ten years old and, if I remember correctly, the shot loading barbell was empty with a weight of about 150 pounds, with a non-rotating 2 1/4 inch diameter, un-knurled bar. I was lifting in the 69 kg Class at that time, or 152 pound bodyweight.

Essentially, you lift one end of the bar and completely upend it. A shot loading bar is perfect for that, with the rounded heads. The shot will also help the process, as gravity makes it shift. Once you find the center of the bar with your shoulders, you cantilever it down while squatting under it. Finally, you stand up with it and put it over head with either a press from behind the next, or better yet, a jerk from behind the neck.

That is a great lift for a show, because you can have people from the audience try to lift it, then you quickly and easily have it over head and back down on the ground. Then move on to your next lift. The weight will not actually be so much that you are really exhausted. If your bar is of large enough diameter, there is no way anyone will be able to clean it.

Learn more cool show lifts and stunts here:

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

The Man Cave Concept

by Roger LaPointe

Framed posters are a great addition to man caves.

Wouldn’t you think that a Man Cave would have some cool fitness equipment?

“Man Caves” have apparently become big business. I was at Home Depot and saw a book on building a man cave and there is even a magazine devoted to the Man Cave. Strangely, I expected at least one of them to include weightlifting equipment, or maybe a heavy bag.
All the popular literature seems to show a man cave as being more like a modern drinking establishment, where you supply your own keg and pay the cable bill. I like large screen televisions too, but my idea of a man cave would be a place for getting drunk with my buddies.

I have been building man caves for years. Of course, they were called weight rooms. Here are some ideas for past cool man caves, for the active guy. These are tips beyond just putting in good stereo speakers.

1. Personal Flavor: For Christmas, I just gave a buddy from school an original James Bond “Thunderball” framed record album, for his weight room. Yep, it had some of that cool 60s art that makes you think of what makes James Bond cool and he is a serious fan. That old 33 1/3 rpm album art was out of this world. He also has some of my Atomic Athletic posters and reproduction, as well as original, instructional wall charts. Whatever you put up, frame it.

2. Good Looking Equipment: Try to think like an architect when putting together your man cave weight room. For example, maybe instead of the standard black heavy bag, you put in a red or dark brown leather one. I have even done custom 3 strand rope and pulley systems using antique barn or ships pulleys to hang the bag. We have put in adjustable height speed bags that have the classic worm screw for adjustment and butcher block type wood board.

3. Actually put in lighting and paint that is nice and bright. Don’t be afraid to actually use “white” paint. Just because your wife is calling it the man cave doesn’t mean it has to be dark and dingy.

4. Weights: Before you even move in your weights and your bench, or whatever, make sure they are clean. Here is a tip, if you have rusty old weights, clean them with a wire brush and some brake cleaner from the auto parts store. Then repaint with some cheap spray paint. If you are buying a new piece, like a bench or power rack, don’t be afraid of equipment colors other than white. Personally, I have been repainting my equipment a lime green candy coat with wrinkle black accents. Of course, we can run automotive paints here in the Atomic Athletic shop, but I have done that for other people as well.

5. Lastly, you should have some respect for yourself and at least paint those basement block walls, or put some dry wall up in your garage.

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

Raise Your Bucket

by Roger LaPointe

Have you ever tried lifting a bucket of water?  Or maybe you have done some roofing work? How about raising a bucket of tools?

Check out this video:

Illustration of Wrist Roller

Lifters from way back, like the Shaolin Monks, would look at a concept and study it from every possible angle. Yes, I called the Shaolin Monks lifters. If you look at the book, “72 Consummate Arts Secrets of the Shaolin Temple”, you will see “The Pot Lifting Arts”, which is simply raising a pot that is filled with sand, gravel or iron filings. Essentially, they are making an adjustable weight. Check out the illustration to the left, showing a monk using a wrist roller. Try it. What you are thinking of as a minor accessory tool is actually the tip of the ice berg. Have you really thought about what you can do with a rope?   The variations are endless, but you need to study the movements. The concept is not limited to the world of martial arts. I had seen wrist rollers for many years, but it wasn’t until I was actually working at the York Barbell Company that I started to seriously investigate the concept.

Zombie Kettlebell Lifter?

by Roger LaPointe

Skeletal representation of a kettlebell swing

Gruesome, Creepy or Cool?

Zombies are fun, and they seem to be awesomely strong without much technique, but they really have no place in the weight room.

Check out the illustration to the left.  I think this study of an overhead kettlebell lift that Sandow did, over 130 years ago, is super cool, as well as very useful.  Let’s analyze this cool skeleton shot. (I don’t think Sandow was considering the potential of a zombie weightlifter.)

First Point: I have to point out the rear leg. When doing a jerk, I was taught to move the back leg straight back with a bent knee and a raised heel. However, that was with a bar bell. If you look at the lifter’s spine you will see something else interesting.

Second Point: The lifters spine is actually curved, almost like he is in the process of doing a bent press. At first glance, I thought that the kettlebell was forward of the center of gravity, but in fact only the handle is. As I drew an imaginary line down from the actual center of gravity, I noticed that the the artist was actually thinking in 3D.

Third Point: The right arm is actually positioned more out to the right and hardly facing forward.

Finally, thanks to the off center rear leg, spinal curvature and right arm angle, you have what could be the strongest overhead lockout for a large diameter kettlebell. Pretty cool stuff. I suggest looking at our shot loaded kettlebells and then also looking at the plate loaded kettlebell handles and thinking about which type would be best for your style of lifting, as well as body type and how each of those factors might impact your kettlebell overhead positioning.

How do you measure up?

by Roger LaPointe

Professor Desbonnet's Gymnasium

You want to know how you measure up?

1936 Olympic Team Heavyweight (181+) Dave Mayor told me that the greatest impact on Olympic sport world records was technology. In fact, he was one of the first men to clean & jerk over 400 pounds. Of course, it was an unofficial lift done on what he called a “trick bar”. He did not know the exact specs, but he said it was made of some sort of spring steel and was nearly ten feet long. He said it went up like it was nothing at all.

Learn to train with old school technology, or a complete lack of technology:

Technology as a term can refer to a lot of different things in the world of weightlifting, for example: what is the bar constructed of, are there steroids and other drugs being used, type of apparel or lifting suits. We can go on and on. However, “Strength” magazine of April 1930 has a great little report of the South Australian Championships, from October 21st & 28th, 1929. Clearly, it was a two day event, that also doesn’t list which lifts were done on which day, but it does include the current World Records for the three weight classes that had competitors. Remember, a Middleweight, at that time, weighed in at 165 pounds.

World’s Records (as of Oct. 28th, 1929)

Pullover & Press (Legs Staight) 247.5 234.5 229
Abdominal Raise 100 88.75 71
Right Hand Snatch 181.5 154 154
Two Hands Dead Lift 517.25 483.5 470
Pullover At Arms Length 129.75 125 108.75
Left Hand Swing (British Style) 154 142.5 134
Right Hand Military Press 111.5 91.75 86
Two Hands Clean & Jerk 297 275 264.5
Crucifix Lift 130 130 120.5
Deep Knee Bend (weight assisted) 340 320 290

I have no idea if the Crucifix Lift was done with dumbbells, or kettlebells, or what style of each may have been used. I do know that having worked on the Crucifix Lift over the last year, I prefer to use the classic plate loading Kettlebell handles. Similar handles seem to be what was used in the USAWA example photo. Having tried various dumbbells and kettlebells, these certainly seem to be the best for the lift and easiest for adjusting the weight at a meet. Here is a link:

All the best,  Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

Lift that Killed World’s Strongest Man

by Roger LaPointe


The Cannon Lift ultimately did him in. Of course, it was a 1000 pound cannon, not any ordinary object and Warren Lincoln Travis was no ordinary man. Travis was actually on the platform doing a show, at 66 years old, when he finally kicked the bucket. He was engaged at an exhibit at Coney Island, and the last show was about 12:30 AM, July 13, 1941… long before the days of steroids.

SIGNATURE LIFTS: The Travis Secret

Everyone wants to know how a guy like Warren Lincoln Travis could get so strong. After all, it is not every 66 year old who can lift a 1000 pound cannon, which he had done many times before it finally killed him. Harness lifting was the Travis secret. In fact, it was the specifically the hip lift that he was most known for. On the occasion of Travis’ 66th birthday, Siegmund Klein and Milo Steinborn witnessed Travis completing 1000 repetitions with 1000 pounds in a mere 40 minutes. He did it in sets of 50 and 75 reps with a little rest between. Richard K. Fox, the owner of the National Police Gazette dubbed Travis “The World’s Strongest Man”, giving him a diamond encrusted that was part of the reward for anyone who could best Travis. No one ever did.

The Warren Lincoln Travis Challenge was well publicized and the USAWA has had several contests with those lifts. For now, all you need to know is that Travis’ specialties were the back lift, harness lifts and finger lifts.

Ready for the Travis path? If so, then start with this video:

Then proceed on to this kind of equipment:

Now you are moving toward real strength.

Lowering the Split Jerk

by Roger LaPointe

Magazine cover shot of Norbert Schemansky in a deep split.

Ask any 5 year old kid what a strongman does and you will probably see a fair demonstration of a clean & jerk. It is the best way to get the heaviest weight over your head.

Now look for the most efficient lifters of all time. The very best will drop low on their splits.

Splits?  What are you talking about?

I don’t mean splits like a martial artist or a cheer leader. I’m talking about split jerks. However, if you want to see some real skill based strength, watch the old time splitters and learn from them. One of the very best was Norbert Schemansky. He did all three lifts with a split: Snatch, Clean and Jerk. He was so good that the entire Russian Olympic Weightlifting team changed their style to match his, in 1956. You will see in the old photos that Norb had his back leg knee no more than an inch or two off the ground. Here is the theory: basically, the lower you drop under the bar, the less you have to explosively move the bar up.

3 Ways to Get Lower Split Jerks
1. Lunges. Do as many variations as you can come up with, but the barbell in the top clean position will be the most useful.
2. Half of the lift is done with the upper body. Make sure you stretch your chest and shoulders. The best way to do it is with a broom stick.
3. Make sure you do lots of split stretches for your legs. You need to focus not just on your hip flexors, but your hamstrings and low back.

Yes. Low back flexibility is essential for the side with the leading leg. Norb used to practice his Snatches and Cleans with a knee touch. Trust me, you aren’t going to get more extreme than that. Here is some great further info on this subject:

Norb’s Book (We have only 3 left.)

All the best,
Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

Turning Girls Heads

by Roger LaPointe

The Larry Scott Collection

I am a strength guy. I have never been a bodybuilder. You will never see me standing on a stage in one of those little swim suits.

Yet… I can honestly say that it is pretty cool when I get noticed as a lifter and, as much as I like to squat, it is always the arms that seem to get girls attention.

Building ARMS That Get You Noticed

I have a 3 step system to building arms that get you noticed. Guys, it’s more than just biceps.

1. Dumbbell Curls: Nothing beats dumbbell curls for building biceps.

2. Clean & Press: The clean & front squat will jump start testosterone production and presses build the triceps.

3. Curl Bar Curls: Straight barbell curls seem to give me tendonitis in the elbows, but I don’t seem to get that when I go back and forth between the regular curl bar and the super curl bar. I also love the super curl bar for reverse curls. Personally, I think forearms actually draw more attention than biceps. At least that concept worked for Popeye.

If you want arm advice from the best, we still have a couple sets of the Larry Scott Collection.

Live strong, Roger LaPointe

Blast Your Benching

by Roger LaPointe

Strongman Double Biceps Curl

I get more questions about the bench press, as a lift, than any other exercise. It makes sense. Bench pressing is easily the most popular exercise with a barbell. If you lift, someone is going to ask you how much you bench.

As a Masters age lifter, I am now fully in the old guy category, the big question is, “How can I increase my bench and bring it back to what it once was?” The emphasis in tone is on the word “I”, as if the individual is in some way unique. When it comes to the Masters age lifter, there can be a few somewhat unique issues, mostly related to injuries.

Because of my training for the crucifix hold, which is closely related to the dumbbell bench press, and thus the barbell bench press, I have come up with some great exercises that can help out anyone, but especially the Masters age athlete. Here is one of them.

Strongman Double Biceps Curl

Believe it or not, this is an outstanding exercise for the front delts and gives a great chest stretch, like using an incline bench. Think of the classic double biceps shot that all the old time strongmen did in their promo photos.
1. Lift your dumbbells as if you are doing a crucifix hold, with a high chest and good back arch.
2. With your arms up in that position, keep your upper arms parallel with the ground, using dumbbells.
3. Now do your full range of motion curls. Refer to the attached illustration.

Tip: This exercise will require less weight that you are typically used to using. Additionally, if you are doing the exercise correctly, you will get a much great stretch in the biceps than you would get from doing almost any other biceps training, even with a preacher curl unit.

I highly recommend York Solid Dumbbells:

Or the plate loaded Olympic type dumbbells:

If you want a number of other great old school exercises that will really help out with your benching, check out Vic Boff’s Bodybuilding Bible:

Live strong, Roger LaPointe

Man Cave Gyms

by Roger LaPointe

I hate the term “Man Cave”. Now I’ve said it and you know the perspective I am coming from.

Here is the other half of that equation. Except for looking at the hot chicks, I dislike almost everything I see at commercial gyms. I don’t necessarily dislike most of the equipment, but the attitude and atmosphere. Most of them generically sterile and completely lack character. I have been a part of the fitness industry, as a professional, for sixteen years now. So I have been in a lot of gyms. I feel I can safely say that I have been in more gyms than almost anybody you know. Outside of little key clubs, there are only a handful of gyms that I would pay to train in. They just seem to suck the life out of me. That leaves the “man cave gym”. I hate the term, but if the shoe fits I intend to make the most of mine.

I recently saw a list of the what some author thought were the top five things necessary for the best man caves. The concept was fine, but the items consisted of every frat house stereotype you can imagine. I don’t remember each item, but I know there was a foosball table, a liquor cabinet and a beer sign. I am sure you get the idea. These places are not training halls.

In addition to some awesome equipment, some of which is just old and useful and other items are awesome because of my access to the industry, I also have some things that make for a great gym, which you might not typically think of. I love old retro scales, so the gym has a great stand-up dial type bodyweight scale from the 1950s. I have a locker set, just like the ones that are for sale in the USED Category. I also have a set of 4 antique folding theater seats, because you need a place to sit between sets. Of course, there are a number of posters, wall charts, photos and even an old Pabst Beer sign… featuring a performing strongman.

I love gyms with character. Now is the time to start developing your own gym, even if you belong to one of those sterile chrome and fern facilities. The book I wrote, Traditional Training Legendary Strength makes an excellent training hall compliment to the Garage Gym Guide:

Live strong, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

OHHH! My Toe!

by Roger LaPointe

Al Myers doing a Steinborn Lift at the 2010 IAWA World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. The Steinborn Lift is a lift that requires very tight quality collars that won't slip off!

Clang! Ding! Bang! Ohhh! My TOE!

Imagine the sound of plate after plate hitting the floor and then the other plates bouncing off those plates and rolling on the floor, with the ringing sound of milled cast iron followed by intense cursing and swearing…

Yes, the catastrophic failure of a crappy spring collar is what I have just described. Of course, it is followed by intense pain, maybe a little blood and a quick trip to the emergency room. None of this is anything I want to be a part of. I really don’t want to be the guy being taken to the emergency room.

Before you do a lift, make sure someone reliable has checked your collars, particularly if you are doing a dumbbell lift. Equipment failures happen. If there is a bolt, it can come loose. If there is a collar, someone can forget to tighten it down. If there is a weld, it can break. As unbelievable as it sounds, I have even seen dumbbell heads that have sheared off the steal handles. The long and short of it is that people abuse gym equipment and there is NO way a manufacturer or gym owner can anticipate every stupid thing that can happen in a gym… Believe me, I can tell you stories.

Quality Spin-Lock Collars are available from Atomic Athletic.

You have to be responsible for your own actions. Check your equipment.

I never use crappy collars for dumbbell lifts and ALL Spring Collars are crappy.

If I am the one who might be injured, I check the equipment before lifting with it.

See Rule #1 and Rule #2. If I violate them, then I only have myself to blame.

I can get a little OCD and excessive about certain things and will simply go overboard sometimes. For example, I have a collection of collars, both standard size and Olympic sized. I use different ones for their ideal applications. If you are just realizing that your collars are an important part of your equipment arsenal, then here is a good place to start looking. I love spin-lock collars. I highly recommend that everyone own at least one pair. Click this link:

Happy lifting. Make sure to tighten down your collars.

Live strong, Roger
“Today is a good day to lift.”

Records Were Smashed

by Roger LaPointe

Dave Polzin set several new USAWA & IAWA records, including in this lift, the Fulton Bar Jefferson Lift.

National and World record sized lifts were made at the Atomic Athletic Tractor Pull Weekend USAWA Weightlifting Meet! There were 10 National and 5 World Record level lifts. Not too shabby…

We also had a lot of fun, which is what it is really about.

The lifts were the Fulton Bar (2” Diameter Thick Bar) Jefferson lift, the One Arm Barbell Deadlift, and the Crucifix Hold. Record attempts succeeded in each of the lifts. Some of the highlights included:

Dave Polzin’s (Age 62, 100 Kg Wt. Class) 402 lbs. Fulton Bar Jefferson Lift
Roger LaPointe’s (Age 41, 80 Kg Wt. Class) 75 lbs. Crucifix Hold
John McKean’s (Age 66, 75 Kg Wt. Class) 276 lbs. Right Arm Dead Lift
Scott Schmidt’s (Age 59, 110 Kg Wt. Class) 90 lbs. Crucifix Hold

Tshirts from the meet are still available for sale!

If you have never tried any of these old school lifts, you probably should. As John Kurtz, one of the officials, pointed out to me, “these are great old lifts that you can find in all the old York, Healthways and Milo Bar Bell courses. Everyone did these before the age of machines!”

We have a couple of shirts left in each of the various sizes. Make sure to jump on those. They are done in an awesome green with black printed artwork. Here is the link:

Stay tuned for future events!

Live strong, Roger LaPointe

Tractor Pull Meet

by Roger LaPointe

The 2nd Annual Atomic Athletic Tractor Pull Weekend Meet went very well. Everyone had a blast.   While it is not yet official, it looks like we may have collectively broken 10 US records and 5 World Records. Each of our lifters broke some sort of record.

We had an unexpected surprise, thanks to the efforts of Scott Schmidt. We have two Ohio based officials that are getting back into the All Round Weightlifting game: John Kurtz and Jim Malloy. As John McKean pointed out, both were very active lifters, with John being both a founding member and an official at many of Howard Prechtel’s events, including the Nationals. I had never previously met them, but hope to make them a fixture at Atomic Athletic events. They each seemed to enjoy themselves and fit right in with our group. By the end of the meet, they each seemed to be itching to pick up some weights. Who knows, maybe we can convince them to do a little coaching or even get them on the platform. I know that I have learned a good deal from lifting with Dave Polzin, who has continued his annihilation of almost every record he sets his sights on. Maybe I will get a chance to learn a bit from Jim and John as well.

I would like to thank everyone who lifted, officiated and helped to clean up. I hope to see everyone at the next Atomic Athletic meet. If anyone would like to make some lift suggestions, please send the requests to me.  We also have meet shirts left over. If you would like to buy one,  the photo will be up on the site tomorrow, but it reflects the general design of the site graphic with black ink on a green shirt. I will make sure to note which sizes are left tonight. Here is the link:


2012 Atomic Athletic Tractor Pull Weekend Meet
August 18th, 2012
Atomic Athletic, Bowling Green, Ohio

Meet Director: Roger LaPoint
Officials: Scott Schmidt, Jim Malloy, John Kurtz, John McKean

Lifts: Deadlift – One Arm, Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar, Crucifix
USR = New “possible” U. S. Record
WR= New “possible” World Record

 LIFTER  DL-1 Arm  Jefferson FB  Crucifix
 David Polzin,216# BW,Age 62  311#R USR/WR  402#USR/WR  60#USR/WR
 John McKean,165#BW, Age 66  267#R  303#USR/WR  35#USR
 Scott Schmidt,242# BW, Age 59  282#R  281#USR/WR  90#USR
Roger LaPointe,167# BW, Age 41 267#R USR 303#USR 75#USR

If anyone is wondering about the odd weight increments for the 1 Arm Deadlift, we were using a 45 pound bar,but lifting with kilo plates. The Crucifix Hold was done with antique York Kettlebell Handles, which are about half a pound lighter than the current kettlebell handles we sell at Atomic Athletic, making the handles, bar and collars a combined weight of 10 pounds. It was a convenient set up for use with pound increment standard size plates.

Building a Better Deadlift

by Roger LaPointe

Promotional poster for the Tractor Pull Championship Weekend Meet.

What is the ultimate measure of strength?

With the Olympics currently taking place, now is a good time to ask this question. Obviously, to many people it is the total of the two hand snatch and two hand clean & jerk, but to many people this is actually a question up to debate. After all, why have Powerlifting contests, if Olympic weightlifting is the ultimate measure of strength?

Then there are the old Odd Lift Contests, which evolved into the All Round Weightlifting Association, as well as the various strongman contests. When it comes to variations on the deadlift, I can come up with a dozen pretty quickly.

In the days before the Trap Bar, guys were really trying to find a way to deadlift that would more closely replicate the upright body position of an Olympic weightlifter’s front squat. One method was the Jefferson Lift. The Jefferson Lift is also called the Straddle Deadlift. You literally straddle the Olympic barbell and have on hand holding the bar in front and one in the back. While this seems a little goofy, with potential danger to certain body parts if you lift the bar too high, there have been some really significant poundages lifted like this. For example, ask anyone in the USAWA 80 kg (176 pound) class about Bob Hirsch. Bob so totally dominated the various deadlift type events that his Jefferson Lift record is the absolute world record, regardless of weight class, at 318.5 kg (702.2 Pounds).

We will be contesting the 2 Inch Diameter Bar Jefferson Lift at the 2nd Annual Atomic Athletic Tractor Pull Championship Weekend Meet August 18th. It will be a three lift meet that also includes the Crucifix Hold and the One Hand Barbell Deadlift. Make sure to get your application in soon. Here is a link to the page:

If you want to see some incredible All Round Lifting, including some amazing Jefferson lifts, check out our Moore Muscle Classic:

or the USAWA 2000 Nationals, which doesn’t have the Jefferson Lift, but does have the Hack Lift, Zercher Lift (off the floor) and 6 other great lifts.

Never let it get boring…

Today is a good day to lift.
Roger LaPointe

Lean Mass Building Workouts

by Roger LaPointe

Adding Medicine Balls to your training program can help build lean muscle mass.

Summer is a time when you want to just pack on some great, quick lean mass. Try out this two workout combination. Take a day of rest between these workouts. There is a lot of lower body work here and you will feel it the next day. You will really feel it the day after Workout B. Give yourself two days of rest after Workout B, or just do some easy jogging or medicine ball work.

Workout A

Bodyweight Squats 3 sets of 10
Front Squat 3 sets of 10
Back Squat 5 sets of 5 up to 60%
Stiff Leg Deadlift 5 sets of 5 – see how high you can go using perfect form. You may hit 300 #, which would be great
Iron Boot Leg Ext. 2 sets of 20
Iron Boot Hanging Leg Curl 2 sets of 20
Hanging Frog Crunches 3 sets of 10

Workout B

Body weight squats
5 sets of 6 depth jumps
Isometrics in the power rack: Squat, Standing Press, Deadlift, Bench – in that order

Live strong, Roger LaPointe

Time to Hit the Beach

by Roger LaPointe

The book "Traditional Training Legendary Strength", by Roger LaPointe

Late night TV is never so good as when it is time to hit the beach! I love it.

We have our own video. One regular customer, named Andy, said, “Disturbingly funny! I couldn’t stop watching it… How do you come up with this stuff?”

Manly Mints

So there I was, up late with the new cat we just adopted. The show I was watching ended and up comes the shot of super hot women wearing next to nothing and drenched in enough fake sweat to make the director of “Airplane” proud. These DVDs had the best name I have seen in years, which I am changing here to “Craziness”. It made all the usual claims about losing huge amounts of weight in a very short time, etc. You know the commercial. It seems like there is a new one every week and they are all the same.

I have been on sets where they film those commercials. I have known some of the actors. I have even worked with some of the producers and business owners who put that stuff together. Their formula sells DVDs. It’s amazing that there are so many people who fall for it. You know all those tricks that you suspect? You probably don’t know the half of it, but you do know the real secret. If you are reading an Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin, then you know the secret.

The real secret is no secret at all. Every one of those producers, writers and actors know the secret too. The secret is hard work over a long period of time. Sure, there are details where we can all constantly work at improving our methods of getting “strong & sexy”, or whatever the infomercials claim, but it starts with hard work.

I have been getting a lot of questions about who the guy is in the background cover photo of my book, “Traditional Training Legendary Strength”. Everyone says the same thing, “That guy looks old school tough. Is he some buddy of yours from the 60’s? What was he taking?” Well, I know that guy took the long road and was all natural. I know because the photo was taken nearly a hundred years ago. His name is Bobby Pandour. The full photo is on page 13.

Learn how to get powerful and strong in the most efficient ways possible. Work hard. Keep training hard for the entire long road. Remember to believe what you already know. It is possible to naturally become incredibly strong and tough, you just have to stick to it and constantly work at improvement.

Knowing the secret, WE can confidently hit the beach. Later, we can go back to laughing at the late night infomercials.

Enjoy the beach.

Live strong, Roger LaPointe

Bull Moose Thick Bar Training

by Roger LaPointe

Local strongman competitor and long time Atomic Athletic customer, Andy Titkemeier is deadlifting his brand new Bull Moose Rotating Thick Bar in the photo to the left.

Thick bar training is really becoming popular. Check out the photo of this amazing thick bar we are selling, then check out this great little workout.

Here is a very simple workout, but fantastic workout for your entire body, that will also fry your forearms and grip. All you need is a thick bar and plates, preferably they should be bumper plates.

Warm-up with a little jogging and/or Indian Club swinging
Thick Bar Hang Cleans 5 sets of 5
Thick Bar Power Clean & Press 5 sets of 5
Thick Bar High Pulls 3 sets of 3 (You should really be feel this in your forearms by now.)
Thick Bar Deadlifts 5 sets of 2
Thick Barbell Curls 3 sets of 10
Roman Chair Sit-ups 5 sets of 10
Stretch, especially the hands, wrists and forearms

This will be sound very strange, but start your first hang cleans with just the empty bar. Add weight with every set and don’t remove any weight until you get to the curls. You will have to make small jumps in weight as you are doing 18 sets. When you get to the deadlifts, use a conventional grip and you will be maxing out on that last set. It will really help to have a thick bar that rotates when you are doing the Olympic type movements.

Our Thick Grip Bar will make you feel strong as a Bull Moose!

Live strong, Roger LaPointe

T-Shirts & Poster News

by Roger LaPointe

Gym art and charts are an essential for any gym. They become a focal point for the training atmosphere, so you want good ones.

Before they are all gone, you want to make sure that you get an Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic T-Shirt & Poster from the 2012 event. We also have posters for the 2012 USAWA Heavy Lifts Championships, which were part of this year’s picnic.

Make sure to listen to the Radio Coverage we received from WBGU, while you are buying your t-shirt and poster from the Picnic page. Newscaster Dave Horger did a nice interview of me a couple days before the event. At this year’s picnic, we had newspaper, radio and television coverage. Word has really gotten around for our annual event.

Remember, we ship our event posters in high quality tubes, so you can frame them and have them looking good for years to come.

Live strong, Roger LaPointe

World Record Clean and Press

by Roger LaPointe

This is the series of pictures showing Dave Polzin's WR Clean and Press of 90 KG.

You want world records? We’ve got’em.

This year’s Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic hosted the USAWA Heavy Lifts Championships, where 8 World Records were broken.

Two of the World Records were done as extra lifts. One of the beauties of the US All-Round Weightlifting Association is having the opportunity to add in extra lifts that are not on the regular agenda. One such lift was the classic Clean & Press.

Dave Polzin was the lifter. He trains with the Atomic Athletic Club at the new Atomic Athletic Training Center. Dave’s first meet in the All Rounds took place at last year’s Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic, but this was far from the beginning of his lifting career. In fact, Dave’s first weightlifting competition was in Olympic Weightlifting, when the Clean & Press was still part of the Olympics. Dave was quite a presser, pushing up over 300 pounds. Unfortunately, right after that meet, the Press was eliminated from Olympic competition. However, as a football player for Defiance College, Dave continued to do the press in his training.

Dave achieved some real success in Olympic style weightlifting, reaching national level in the late 70s and early 80s. He usually lifted in the 110 kg weight class, placing as high as second at the US Nationals. His by clean was 202.5 kg (446.5 lbs.). Dave quit competition by the mid-1980s, with many of his friends trying to get him to lift as a Masters age athlete.

It took the “odd lifts” of the USAWA to get him back into competition mode again. Last year’s Strongman Picnic included the One Hand Barbell Deadlift and the Clean & Push Press, where he set records in both lifts. Now Dave Polzin has caught the bug for all round weightlifting.

This past weekend, the Heavy Lifts Championships were not enough for Dave. He also wanted to break the Clean & Press record, which he did in fine style. He practiced the Hand & Thigh Lift with us at the Atomic Athletic Club, but we didn’t have harnesses for the Neck Lift or the Hip Lift, so Dave learned from the other lifters that day. When he finished he went 2 for 3 in the Clean & Press, breaking the record twice, where the new record now stands at 90 Kg (198 lbs.) for the 100 kg wt. Class and 60+ age group. Dave is already pushing for the next meet here at Atomic Athletic.

Live strong, Roger LaPointe

Heavy Lift Championships

by Al Myers

Group picture from the 2012 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships: (front left to right) Roger LaPointe, Al Myers, Denny Habecker, Eric Todd, Scott Schmidt (Back) Dave Polzin

This past Saturday Roger LaPointe, of Atomic Athletic, hosted the 2012 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships.  It was held in conjunction with his annual promotion, the Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic.  After last year’s Heavies in York, I didn’t know if that meet could be topped, but after attending Roger’s event I think it was!   The combination of the championships and the picnic were a perfect fit – it led to a festive environment along with many spectators.  Roger did an EXCELLENT JOB of bringing everything together to celebrate a day of strength. Along with the Championships, there were several strength shows by other strongmen going on.  All of this was topped off with a big meal for everyone in attendance.  I won’t say anymore about the picnic activities as I will leave that story for Roger to tell later.

Myself (left) and Roger LaPointe (right). Roger did an outstanding job of promoting the USAWA Heavy Lift Championships!

The meet itself was well attended for a Heavy Lift Championships. All together 7 lifters entered – a mixture of heavy lift veterans and a couple of new lifters to the “chain lifts”.  This meet doesn’t appeal to all lifters, and generally the Heavy Lift Champs doesn’t get more entries than this, so I was very pleased with the turnout.  It ended up “being a battle” between Eric Todd and myself for the overall champion.  It came down to the last event, the Hip Lift, to decide the day’s champion.  I was in order before ET, so I pushed myself and got a 2000# Hip Lift to put a little pressure on him.  He responded well, and put up with a personal record Hip Lift of 2075# to edge me out by only 3 adjusted points. I will have to do some research on this, but I’m guessing this is the closest finish for the overall lifter EVER in a Heavy Lift Championships.  Eric was the one who “stole the show” of the day on the whole – he started off the meet with an overall ALL TIME USAWA & WORLD RECORD in the Neck Lift with an unbelievable lift of 905 pounds!!!  His new record topped Chad Ullom’s 900 from last years Heavy Champs, which has now become the norm for being one of the best in the Neck Lift.   It was a really impressive lift, and I expect will inspire Chad to lift even more.  I fully expect one of these two lifters to be the first to break the “magic barrier” of 1000 pounds in the Neck Lift.  It will happen.  I was glad to see ET enter this big meet and win this championships. Most don’t know this, but ET has been competing in the USAWA longer than I have (by 6 months).  He has never really traveled far to meets in the USAWA as he has been focused on his pro strongman career.  He is a gifted all rounder and I kidded him he is still a youngster (at 37) in the USAWA and his best years are still ahead of him.

Dennis Mitchell giving an interview to the local TV station.

On the other end of the spectrum is Dennis Mitchell.  Dennis is now 80 years old and was the oldest lifter in this meet.  For his age, Dennis is remarkable.  Most guys his age would never take on lifts like the Heavy Lifts.  Dennis is a “master” at these lifts, and constantly surprises me with his lifting.  He told me last weekend that this month marks 69 years since he began lifting weights (that’s right, 69 years!!!!).   Also, he has competed throughout this whole time. That is one long lifting career!!!  I was glad to see Dennis get recognized by being interviewed by the local TV station.

Another lifting milestone was achieved this past weekend as well.  Our USAWA President Denny Habecker told me that Saturday marked 50 years since his first lifting competition – to the day!!!   I made sure to celebrate this occasion with Denny after the meet.  Denny multi-tasked all day as a lifter and as the head official, as well as bringing the heavy bar and accessories for the meet.  Many things happen in the USAWA only because of Denny!! He finished with a record lift in the Hip Lift at 944 pounds.

I was glad to see competing the two newcomers, wily veteran Olympic Lifter Dave Polzin, and the big talented young kid Thomas Casillas.  Both have tremendous abilities, and with a little practice on the Heavy Lifts will be very good Heavy Lifters. Dave really impressed me after the meet when he did a 198# Clean and Press at the age of 62 for an age group record!!!  Andrew Durniat made an appearance as well in one of the strongman shows.  I hadn’t seen Andrew in a year, but immediately I could tell that he has added some muscular size since then.  He did a 166# one arm snatch for a new record.  This is one of the best one arm snatches of the year in the organization.  Andrew’s strength in a lift like this shows that he is “way more” than just a grip lifter.  I’m hoping that we will continue to see Andrew compete in the USAWA, as he is a great person as well as a superb lifter.

Athletic Atomic club member Dave Polzin performed a 198# Clean and Press at the age of 62!!!!

Another all -round lifter who was in attendance but did not compete was the Cleveland lifter John Kurtz.  John trained under the legendary Howard Prechtel and obviously has a wealth of information.  I enjoyed visiting with him throughout the day and getting to know him.  His name is “littered” throughout our USAWA record list with impressive records, and it was nice to be able to “put a name with a face”.   He has had some health issues of late, but he still looked like he was in lifting shape to me!!!  I hope to see him get “back into action” in USAWA competition.  The only person I have not mentioned yet is Scott Schmidt.   I saved Scott for last because I want to make sure everyone knows how much he contributes to our organization.  Scott is part of the 5-person executive board that governs the USAWA, and is very influential “behind the scenes”.  He is always very helpful at meets, and one of the better officials in the organization.  He put up a great lift of 1005# in the Hand and Thigh as well and placing third overall in this meet. 


Heavy Lift Championships
Bowling Green, Ohio
May 12, 2012

Meet Director:  Roger LaPointe

Lifts:  Neck Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Harness Lift

Officials:  Denny Habecker, Dennis Mitchell, Scott Schmidt, Eric Todd, Al Myers

Announcer: Roger LaPointe

Scorekeeper: Al Myers

Loader: Jeff Rybek

Eric Todd 37 252 860 1200 2075 4135 3266.6
Al Myers 45 240 700 1100 2000 3800 3263.1
Scott Schmidt 59 249 287 1005 1400 2692 2567.8
Dave Polzin 62 215 330 750 900 1980 2090.3
Denny Habecker 69 196 0 600 900 1500 1761.4
Dennis Michell 80 154 240 400 550 1190 1756.8
Thomas Casillas 15 305 0 600 0 600 496.9


NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  TOT is total pounds lifted.  PTS are adjusted points for bodyweight correction and age allowance.


Eric Todd  Neck Lift:  905#
Denny Habecker Hand & Thigh Lift: 705#
Denny Habecker Hip Lift: 944#
Dennis Mitchell Hand & Thigh Lift: 450#
Dennis Mitchell  Hip Lift: 625#
Thomas Casillas Hand and Thigh: 700#
Dave Polzin Clean and Press: 198#
Andrew Durniat Snatch – Left Arm: 166#
(33 years old, 230 lbs. BWT)

Atomic Athletic on WBGU

by Roger LaPointe

This is the last reminder for the 2012 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships, to be held at Atomic Athletic.

Do you want to get some FREE Atomic Athletic stuff?

Make sure to listen to WBGU Radio 88.1 FM from 6-9 AM with Dave Horger. Dave has an outstanding morning news radio program on the BGSU Public Radio station. He will be giving away free Atomic Athletic swag every day this week.

When you are at the Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic on Saturday, May 12th, make sure to find Dave. He will be doing interviews covering the event.

Here is the link for 88.1 FM:

If you need more information about the Picnic, here is the link:

Don’t forget, the USAWA Heavy Lifts Championships are part of the Strongman Picnic this year. I am sure you will see someone doing a chain bar lift with over 1500 Pounds.

Live strong, Roger LaPointe

2000 Pounds of 100’s

by Roger LaPointe

Advertisement poster for the 2012 Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Oldetime Strongman Picnic.

When was the last time you saw 2,000 Pounds of plates that were all 100 Pounders?

The 2012 Heavy Lifts Championships at the Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic will have that many. I fully expect that someone will do a lift of OVER 1,500 pounds on Saturday, the 12th of May.

Make sure to check out the Atomic Athletic web page for photos of some of these monster lifts and the one of a kind Poster!

We will also have multiple chain lift bars, an assortment of heavy lifting harnesses and hand & thigh bars, not to mention all the smaller plates. Hopefully, we will even have need for the little Record Maker Plates. Those babies go down to the 1/4 Kg size. After all, a 1/2 Kg record is still a record.

The 3 lifts are: The Hip Lift, The Neck Lift and the Hand & Thigh Lift!

We now do our own classic Chain Lift bar design and a USAWA Regulation Bar. They are slightly different, but the same price.

Definitely don’t miss out on the Picnic! Remember, the Picnic and Heavy Lifts Championships are at the Old School on South Main in beautiful Bowling Green, OH. The action will be taking place on the sports fields with lifting platforms on the basketball court.

Live strong, Roger LaPointe

WEBMASTERS COMMENT: The entry deadline of May 9th is fast approaching for the 2012 USAWA Heavy Lifts Championships. It’s not to late to get entered!!

Heavy Lifts Championships

by Roger LaPointe



The 2012 USAWA Heavy Lifts Championships will be hosted by Atomic Athletic.

Atomic Athletic is proud to host this years 2012 USAWA Heavy Lifts Championships. The Heavy Lifts Event will take place the day of the Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic, in the morning, before the picnic festivities begin.

The Heavy Lifts Championships will consist of 3 Heavy Lifts: The Hand & Thigh Lift, the Neck Lift, and the Hip Lift.

Registration for the Event is open, but you must be a member of the USAWA to compete. You can download the membership form below.

Saturday, May 12th, 2012
Weigh in begins at 9am.
Lifting begins at 11am.

Entry Form (pdf) – 2012HeavyLiftsRegistrationForm

Kilos to Pound Confusion

by Roger LaPointe

Kilo to Pound Conversion Chart from Atomic Athletic

Need to know what the other guy is lifting?

Confusion the name of the game in your gym?

The whole kilos to pounds thing got your athletes scratching their heads?

Worry no more!

All you need is a handy dandy Conversion Chart from Atomic Athletic!

A More Explosive Snatch

by Roger LaPointe

Atomic Athletic is a dealer for Leoko Olympic Bars. This is a premium Oly bar that complies with IWF specifications.

It’s easy to say that you will snatch more if you just get stronger. Sure, part of getting stronger is lifting heavier weights. Yet, becoming more explosive in a lift often means that you have to go backward with the weight.

Yes, if you want to become more explosive, you probably need to lift lighter weights, as in the ones you can be explosive with, while maintaining perfect technique.

Tommy Kono once told me that he never ended a lifting session without doing three perfect lifts, regardless of the weight on the bar. It cements the technique into your neuromusclar synapses. Here is what I have learned. That is harder to do than it sounds.

When you are training the Olympic lifts and steadily going up in weight, once you have missed a lift, it’s because you are now too weak to do it correctly. It’s maddening. You will probably try to dig deep try that weight again. You may or may not make it. Let’s say you do. There is almost no way you are going to make that weight two more times. You are simply too tired. Therefore, you must lower the weight. How much? Good question. I have found that after I’ve started missing lifts, knocking off 5 kg means nothing. I can’t feel the difference. I recommend dropping down to what you do as a power snatch or power clean, but do the full lift.

After doing your three good lifts, move onto partials with heavy weight. I like pulls from the blocks, starting from your sticking point…

That’s some real world advice. Take it or leave it.

Live strong,
Roger LaPointe

Today is a good day to lift.”

(WEBMASTERS COMMENT: A good weight lifting bar is essential for optimal lifting.  Atomic Athletic has a great selection of bars that will accomodate any style of weightlifting you do. Here’s a link - )

Strengthen the Jerk

by Roger LaPointe

Roger LaPointe training with the Safety Squat Bar, which are available for sale from Atomic Athletics.

It’s funny. Most people think of the Jerk, as in the second half of the Clean & Jerk, as an arm and shoulder lift. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Power for the jerk, just like the snatch and clean, comes from the hips. However, in addition to learning the technique involved in the jerk, I do see one very common problem that is related to “bodybuilding” concepts. Most athletes would benefit by getting their split lower.

Lowering the Split

Especially for the beginner athlete, there is one exercise that can really help strengthen that low split position and there is one tool that makes it so easy to start adding real weight that it almost feels like cheating. You are going to add in barbell lunges to your routine, but you are going to use your trusty old Safety Squat Bar.

Safety Squat Bars will allow you focus on foot position in the split. This means that you can really work on a long, low split. Sure, you still have to keep a tight core and high chest, etc. For many athletes, especially those new to Olympic lifting, barbell lunges, done for helping the split jerk, makes for too many things to think about controlling all at once.

Try this out. You will also find that if you are over trained for squatting and in the low back, the Safety Squat Bar Lunges can give those areas some much needed rest, while still getting in some much needed work.

Hack Squats for Olympic Lifting

by Roger LaPointe

Roger LaPointe getting ready to pull a Hack Lift.

The old school strongmen had some really innovative ways of training. Sometimes you did a lift to force someone to learn technique, they just happened to get strong at the same time.

Where did I read about this one? I have no idea. Yet, I remember reading that a deadlift, which “started from the floor and behind the calves” was helpful in learning the clean. Whoever wrote that was absolutely correct.

Use the same barbell that you will be using to do your cleans. Use the same hand position on the bar. Here are some of the things that the Hack Lift will force you to do.

1. High Chest
2. Narrow grip will make you have narrow foot position off the floor
3. Curling your wrists
4. Pulling the bar back

Try doing three hack lifts then immediately do three power cleans with those ideas in mind.

Don’t worry. You do not even have to do super heavy weight in the Hack Lift to get those benefits for your cleans.

Live strong,
Roger LaPointe



The Classic Starlet’s Legs

by Roger LaPointe

Pudgy Stockton demonstating leg exercise number 4 using Iron Boots.

Beautiful pair of legs? Thank you girls, show me a pair from old Hollywood. Yes, some girls also call some men’s legs beautiful. So, if you have always wondered how a guy like John Grimek, or the Hollywood starlets of the 1940’s and 50’s got those great gams, they all did it with the same exercises.

Check out these hot photos of Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton, from the March 1947 issue of Strength & Health magazine. She was much more than a lifter and writer. She was a trainer as well. In addition to doing the standard free weight leg exercises, like squats and lunges, she promoted extensive use of the Iron Boots. Great legs do not require a room full of exercise machines, but the are the result of great education.

Here is the secret. Folks, they used Iron Boots for an extensive list of exercises. Abbye shows 5 Iron Boot exercises in this one article alone. Any Cross Fit girl should be thrilled to have Abbye’s legs, abs and entire physique.

Pudgy and the swinging leg exercise number 8.

Exercise #8: “Leg Swinging” is one of the more unusual and forgotten exercises. I love this Iron Boot exercise because in addition to the benefits mentioned by Abbye, many Atomic Athletic customers have reported that it is good for reducing sciatic pain. For those of you unfamiliar, sciatica can have a number of causes, but it is very basically any kind of tenderness or pain associated with the sciatic nerve that runs down the back of the leg.

Here is how you perform the exercise. “Lie on back. Place arms out to the sides in a straight line with the shoulders. Keeping the knees locked – raise the right leg (toes pointed) and try to touch the left hand with the right toe. Do not allow the upper body to move or twist– the movement should be in the hips.” Then make sure to do the opposite leg as well, obviously doing the opposite movements, left toe to right hand. Make sure the leg moves in a nice slow high arc.

If you would like to see photos of all eight exercises, you will need to check out the Atomic Athletic Facebook page and go to the Notes section. You will find this Atomic Athletic Bomb Proof Bulletin, as well as many past bulletins.